I would like to take the opportunity to lead a couple of cheers for energy and sustainability at the local level. The transit center information (thanks Randy for the story and link) contains this bit of good news that some might not notice amidst the drawings. "The building will be LEED certified meaning that it will use less energy than conventional buildings and will be built with sustainable building practices." The center will introduce an AVL system (GPS based) which will locate buses and tell riders at which gate the their bus will arrive and at what time. This will not only provide convenience for riders. It will also lead to less idling time and less air pollution. Of course the idea of the transit center is to help enhance the system and attract more riders (and reduce automobile trips).
The second piece of news in re: sustainability is city's decision to invest almost $800k in LED lights for all traffic signals. This represents a huge energy savings. After a 2.5 year payback the city will realize a significant yearly savings in in energy and labor costs. Of course while the cash savings is great the reduced demand for electricity represents environmental as well as economic value.
This was an initiative of the mayor's 15-member Energy & Sustainability Task Force - including members from the City of Knoxville, Knox County, TVA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville Utilities Board and environmental groups. They have been charged with developing a strategic plan for reducing energy consumption and enhancing the City's overall environmental sustainability. The group will convene next Wednesday to discuss the finding of the recently conducted energy and emissions inventory. (That was fun to watch. Part involved UT students and other volunteers counting every piece of trash leaving the City County building.)
This group is chaired by Madeleine Weil, deputy director of Policy & Communications. She has also been a prime help in helping guide the Transit Center design to follow LEED guidelines.
Some of you may remember my introducing her on KnoxViews last year. Madeleine has been in my dept. for almost a year, during which time she has had a major impact, not only regarding downtown, but in leading the sustainability initiative. She came from New Haven Connecticut where she was involved in both city and state efforts dealing with climate change and sustainability. She has a Masters in Environmental Planning from Yale.
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